Pride Toronto has rejected an application from a local men’s rights group to march in the 2015 Pride parade after protesters complained.
In a decision released June 10, Paul Bent, an arbitrator appointed by Pride Toronto, wrote that after reviewing numerous complaints regarding the Canadian Association for Equality’s (CAFE) intention to participate in the parade, he had decided to revoke CAFE’s permit.
“I must give the complaints of members of the LGBTTIQQ2SA community precedence when they indicate the participation of CAFE could directly undermine the participation of queer, lesbian and trans women in the Pride parade,” Bent writes.
“Consequently, I determined that the Pride parade is not the right venue for CAFE given Pride Toronto’s vision to create a safe space for people of all genders and sexual orientation.”
In a written statement, Pride Toronto says that it takes all complaints very seriously and respects the result of the dispute resolution process. “This decision, based on a thorough reflection of all views, will prevent CAFE from participating in the 2015 Pride parade and all future parades and events organized by Pride Toronto.”
Executive director Mathieu Chantelois says that Pride Toronto has no intention of re-opening the debate again, unless CAFE drastically changes its mission or vision. “We are not planning to do this every year — for us, they are banned.” The arbitrator’s decision is final.
CAFE was originally on the list of groups set to march in the parade, set for June 28 this year. Chantelois told Daily Xtra earlier this year that there was no screening process. “Everybody is approved until we get a complaint against them.”
Pride Toronto received 14 official complaints from community members, says Chantelois, and many more phone calls and emails regarding CAFE’s participation.
Justin Trottier, CAFE’s executive director, says that he currently has no comment. “I have to consult with our stakeholders and our board of directors and decided on what makes sense in terms of our next step.”
He does not believe the decision was fair. “Obviously I don’t, because I think our values are the values of Pride.”
Chantelois hopes that with the festival only eight days away, the conversation can now shift to all of the guests and organizations that are involved in the Pride parade. “It’s their time to shine as well,” he says. “I really don’t want CAFE to rain on their parade.”